First play of Talisman: Legendary Tales

So, here’s some more rambling about how my daughter, Katie, and I played through our first games of Talisman: Legendary Tales by Pegasus Spiele and lived to tell the tale!

Just to note that there may be some SPOILERS amongst the blurb and pictures that follow, so if you want your first experience to be a total surprise then I would stop reading immediately and wait patiently for another couple of weeks until the game is on general release!

We had decided that we would spread the play over a number of nights and would stop playing once we had completed a maximum of two Adventures, so that we could digest what had gone on a little more easily.

Katie chose the female Dwarf as her adventurer and I went with the old male Wizard, and we decided to keep the same heroes for the duration of the campaign.

We also decided that we were going to ramp up the difficulty and try for the “three star” Talismans on each Adventure, which may have been a little impulsive for a first outing, but you don’t become Legendary by not taking risks!

In the image above you can see the setup for the first Adventure – The Curse of the Fairies – which, in the first Chapter, has you wandering about the realm looking for Herbs (with a hard H) that the Alchemist requires to make a potion to assist you in the second Chapter.

The adventure progressed well (we thought) and we ended up with a fine tally of trophies taken from the various expansions of the game, apart from the Bat which is a new piece of artwork that will no doubt be made into a homebrew card soon (I’ve already done it…)

You can see that there is an increase in the difficulty of Enemies as you progress through the Adventure, which makes it important to take advantage of gaining Rewards when you can.

We completed the Adventure with just two “hours” to spare, but it would have been easy for another couple of bad rolls/draws that would have seen us fail!

The second Adventure – Dragon Hunt – has you… ummm… hunting a Dragon… (who knew?)

Encouraged by our success in the first Adventure, we set up the board and our characters quickly met with some strangers in the Tavern who told us where the next Talisman would be.

Little did we know just how sneaky those strangers would be…

…and before long we had run out of time and night time fell! Demoralised, we stopped playing for the evening and had a chat about what went so wrong.

You can see in the image above that it can be very easy for time to pass, as I managed to pick up three “hourglass” tokens in one turn! There is also a 1 in 6 chance that your Travel die roll might end up advancing the clock.

We realised that, in our haste, we had not encountered many Enemies along the way and therefore had a severe lack of extra Reward tokens in our bags to choose from. Not only can you find tokens that give extra Swords and Magic Hats, but also tokens that counteract the effects of time, sometimes even reversing it.

On our second run through of the Adventure, we took our time and made a point of collecting as many trophies, and therefore Rewards, as we could.

Coupled with some lucky token draws and die rolls, we absolutely stormed the Adventure and scored another legendary “three star” Talisman for the team!

Of note is the addition to this Adventure of “Stronger” and “Wealthy” Enemies, like the Dragon shown who has an additional two lives and gives two Rewards when defeated. There are also Treasure Chests that you can encounter that immediately gift you a Reward, so those are always good to find!

The third Adventure – Grabby Goblins – has a definite theme of our green-skinned cousins running through it, and the first Chapter has you scouring the lands trying to discover where the Talisman has been hidden.

Most of the Adventures follow a similar path – Start here, Find that, Take it there, Fight that or Do something else – but each story is different and the way that the designers, Michael Palm and Lukas Zach, have added some nice touches to help randomise the experience so that there are several different possible narratives for your campaign.

During the second Chapter of the Adventure you can be affected by the foul Goblin magics of Sizzle as the time counter progresses along the track. Luckily, I think we only had to endure one of these attacks as we were lucky enough to draw a number of tokens that allowed us to manipulate time in our favour.

You will notice another type of Treasure Chest in this Adventurer that you must “fight” as a normal Enemy in order to reap the greater Rewards within.

Happy with the acquisition of our third “three star” Talisman, we stopped playing for the evening and looked forward to the final Adventures to come!

The fourth Adventure – A Plague of Toads – starts innocuously enough, you have to escort the Prince from the Tavern to the Castle. How hard could it be?

Well, firstly you have to clear the way of Enemies for the Prince to travel, and he won’t move unless his path is clear. Not only that, but if he doesn’t move you must advance the time counter!

We decided as one of us was proficient in fighting with Magic Hats, and the other was handy with Swords, that we would stick together and clear a path together. Luckily we managed to clear each Location as we encountered it and the Prince reached his destination!

…and then the Evil Witch appeared, and she reanimated the defeated Enemies and added them to the time track! So not only will you face Enemies on Locations, but you can be attacked if your time counter moves forward!

Don’t let her smile fool you though as she is incredibly sneaky, in that once you have found her and taken one of her lives, she can teleport to another Location! She also secretly stashes a Toad token to your bag which can really mess up your progress a bit as it reduces the number of tiles you can move and how many tokens you can take each turn.

Luckily we managed to stay within a couple of tiles of her and finished her off reasonably quickly so we completed the quest with only a single Toading, but I think we were incredibly fortunate!

Finally… the fifth Adventure – The Dark Lord!

The setup for this Adventure was the most interesting as it not only has a new type of token, the Villagers, but also reuses the red encounter tokens from the second Adventure.

Basically you must travel through the realm, questioning various Villagers, in order to discover the identity of the one who has the Talisman.

We took our time to pick off all of the Enemies in the Adventure, so that we could boost our Reward pool and also made a point of encountering most of the Villagers who can help you in the final Chapter.

The number of Villagers left on the board also determines how many Grey Enemies you will encounter in the endgame, and bar your way to the Cursed Glade, where you must deliver the final Talisman.

So, all we needed were some lucky die rolls and token draws… right?

Wrong! Not only do you have to wend your way to the bottom of the board, fighting the stronger Enemies you will find on your way, but the board tiles start to disappear as you progress!

At the end of each round, two tiles disappear, so you have to stay ahead of this by rolling well and making sure that you are in a position to defeat any Enemies that you find.

But, with luck on our side, we made it! Though with only 3 turns remaining. A few bad draws and it could have been a completely different story!

Fifteen stars! We were LEGENDARY!!

So, what did we think?

All in all, it was a positive gaming experience, and I really enjoyed playing through the Adventures and the story that unfolded over the three evenings.

Each Adventure took around 20 minutes to half an hour to complete, so you can easily jump in and out of the game without having to set aside a whole evening (or weekend!) like you would normally have to do with a game of Talisman: The Magical Quest Game.

But is it Talisman?

I think that the inclusion of familiar illustrations and locations from the Talisman world certainly allows you to immerse yourself in the game enough to make it worthy of the name of Talisman, but it is certainly not as deep and violent as that world can be. At the end of the day though, it’s not supposed to be as this is a game developed for children and families to enjoy, with the lightest of fantasy themes so it’s basically down to how willing you are to use your imagination and invest in the setting.

The new artwork from Falk “Zapf” Holzapfel is really bright and fun and certainly a match for the art from the original game, especially the “cute” art style of Felicia Cano which features on tokens and Scrolls in the game.

The bag building mechanic is something new to me, but I am on board with the idea that you increase your possibility of drawing certain types of token, rather than just ramping up your attributes in the normal game and there is certainly not the same problem with being so buffed that you do not need to roll dice for combat.

The cooperative nature of the game ensures that there is still chat around the table as you discuss your best strategy for beating a particular Enemy or Boss. There is certainly enough opportunity to laugh at your team mates as they fail spectacularly in a task, or even end up as a Toad!

I have heard nothing as yet, but I really hope that Pegasus Spiele will release an expansion of some sort, perhaps with a new hero and a set of tokens to use with a single Adventure Scroll.

They’ve already released a little hint sheet that suggests ways of inventing your own Adventures using the components from the game. Who knows? Maybe they will release some ideas online whcih will add a bit of longevity to the game.

One of my first thoughts on reading about the game, and definitely on playing the game is that it is very much like Talisman: Prologue from Nomad Games, but with the added bonus that the playing field is not static.

Talisman: Prologue was touted as a good way to learn the basics of the main Talisman game, but it’s also a fun game in its own right. In the same way as Talisman: Legendary Tales, you can dip back in easily as the mood takes you and try to better your score or just enjoy the tale that unfolds as you play.

As mentioned previously, the character pool is limited as there are those that are supposed to be played offensively, but there are still enough differences in the heroes to make it all interesting.

It would be very easy for Talisman: Legendary Tales to be adapted into a digital title, and I have my fingers crossed that it might happen at some point.

In the mean time I will no doubt be looking at ways to convert some of the original quests from Talisman: Prologue to use on the tabletop, and I’ve even started to dabble with making templates to use for tokens etc!

During our play sessions I decided to use the tray above to help store the game, which works very well for separating out the various tokens from the Chapters, along with the tokens that have to be arranged during set up.

It fits rather well into the box with the Location tiles on top, and the Adventure Scrolls & Rules above it. For the moment I have stopped using the Scoreboard that is built into the box as the room is limited for the playing pieces, and of course the token bags.

I’ve even taken the plunge and set out to collect a few replacement minis to use as generic adventurers and the best I have seen so far come from WizKids.

Their Deep Cut miniatures come in a variety of archetypes and generally come with male and female versions that match the heroes in the game. I had to be a little creative with miniatures for the Troll and Prophet(ess), but I will add the full range to the page once the postie has delivered everything!

Not forgetting of course the fabulous dice bags from Board Game Solutions that I’ve tweaked by adding a spring-loaded toggle to help secure the contents.

First ponderings about Talisman: Legendary Tales

First look at Talisman: Legendary Tales

Talisman: Prologue at Nomad Games

Unpainted Miniature Range at WizKids

Board Game Solutions on Etsy

Talisman: Legendary Tales on BoardGameGeek

Talisman: Legendary Tales at Pegasus Spiele